Monday, 7 November 2016

"The Commitments"
Nottingham theatre Royal.
Roddy Doyle's book about a group of musicians founded by one man with a love of soul music seemed forever to get going, and that was after it took forever to start. there was a delay, due to technical issues meaning that we were left waiting for half an hour, part of that time looking at the open stage with a few actors milling about, looking almost as confused as we were.
When the musical did get started, it seemed like it was catching up with itself. speeding along which made the pace seem rushed rather than pacy.
Slowly the pace,as opposed to the speed, picked up and by the end of act one, The Commitments had turned me around and I was looking forward to what I hoped to be the best of the two acts.
Apart from Kevin Kennedy, who you may remember best as Curtly Watts in Coronation Street, I'd not heard of any of the actors. After tonight there are some of the actors I won't forget. Kennedy played Jimmy's dad, and my only criticism is that Kevin's accent seemed to keep returning to Manchester and the streets of Weatherfield than stay in Dublin.
This was my main issue because you could really tell which if the actors weren't Irish because the straying accents.
That said this show has so much energy and some brilliant soul songs that you really can't help but love this musical.
Brian Gilligan (Deco) has a fantastic voice. I was worried about a replacement for Andrew Strong from the original film, but with vocalists like Brian, I completely forgot Strong. Gilligan played and teased the audience and he had us eating out of his hands. His finale of of "Try A Little Tenderness" was absolutely superb and had us all on our feet.
Andrew Linnie (Jimmy) was equally excellent in his role in the man who got the band together and occasional peacemaker.
Loved the whole band who created a brilliant crisp sound that, once they got up and running, got every foot tapping in the place.Another case of actors having to play the instruments they use on stage and boy did they play those instruments with amazing gusto and class.
Alex Mcmorran (Joey "The Lips") was rather good as the religion spouting trumpeter who had an eye for the ladies and, being the eldest of the band, by quite a few years, also showed that the older man has a lot to give when it comes to the ladies of the band.
Talking of whom.....Amy Penston (Natalie), Leah Penston (Imelda) and Christina Tedders (Bernie) were mind-blowing as the female backing vocalists and lead singers on cracking foot-stomping songs like "River Deep Mountain High".
The other character that I loved to bits was Mickah, the "security" for the band. Played by Sam Fordham, he was wonderful to watch with his over the top security tactics, his manic choreography and his drumming skills.
The lighting was at times a bit too subdued for me but when it worked well, it worked very effectively.
It's all about the music at the end of the day and the soundtrack is full of classic soul songs. "Proud Mary", "Knock On Wood", "Mustang Sally", "Land Of 1000 Dances", "Satisfaction", "Reach Out I'll Be There" are just a few of the 24 soul classics that will get your feet tapping
Look, it was opening night and it just happened to be a packed house and even though there was a delay at the start, which may or may not have affected the actors, the cast seemed determined to make sure that they gave just a little bit more to make up for the start. they succeeded for me because they turned my initial opinion around and I ended up loving the show.
"The Commitments" is on at the Nottingham theatre Royal until Saturday 12 November 2016

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